“It’s also very quiet in Powell River and you don’t have large buildings.” The food is different too. Alex loved Italian food while Paolo enjoyed sampling ribs, chicken wings, steak, and bacon and eggers – food he doesn’t eat much in Palermo. “Powell River is very beautiful. We walk and bike a lot in Powell River.” Alex loved the old churches and buildings but best of all, the nightlife. He said there are fewer fat people in Italy and that they don’t have half as many fast food restaurants as we have in Canada. He also observed that the women are very beautiful.
For Jonathan Gordon, a year-long Rotary exchange program in Gravelines, France, from August 2012 to July 2013, was a life changing experience. “I heard about it from Mrs. Behan (Brooks Secondary Vice Principal),” said Jonathan. “She had done this when she was in high school and thought it would be something I would like.” Jonathan completed Grade 11 in France. Back home, he could count only the physical education and drama courses he took in France towards his Grade 11 year, but because he did courses over the summer when he returned, he was able to graduate
UP ON THE ROOFTOP: Jonathan Gordon enjoying a taste of freedom in France.
with his peers. Jonathan’s ability to speak French was abysmal when he left. “I knew how to say hello and goodbye and that was about it. It was hard at first but with each host family it got easier,” he said. Jonathan had three sets of host parents during his year in France. “They were all awesome.” In the big centres, there are places where lots of exchange students meet up. In Jonathan’s case, it was Lille, a 20 minute train ride away. He enjoyed bus rides around Europe spending three nights in Paris, a night in the French mountains [Which French Mountains] and three nights in Barcelona, Spain. Another bus trip took Jonathan to Riems, Nuremburg, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Milan, Geneva, Mount Blanc, Djon,
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and back to Paris. His favourite place in Europe? Venice! “It was sunny and warm there and I’d just come from the cold. Venice is so beautiful with all the canals, little restaurants, and houses.” Jonathan said the Rotary experience changed his life. “I have more vision for the future now. I am thinking internationally. Instead of just going to UVic, I think I might go to school in France or elsewhere to study viticulture and oenology (the science and art of making wine).” It also changed his perspective. “I went to the French Alps for New Year’s and asked my host sister, ‘What do you like better: the Swiss Alps or the French Alps?’ She said, ‘Well aren’t they both just the Alps?’”
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Published on Sep 27, 2014